Following the success of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s live performances this summer and fall at its Backyard Stage, a new venue they designed to be as pandemic-proof as possible, the company is now turning to the creation of digital content for their audiences in the winter months.
Artistic director Bonnie J. Monte has announced an “everything old is new again” take on the company’s upcoming online programming initiative, called Pandemic Playhouse Entertainment (PPE). This new ambitious project will hopefully launch before the end of 2020, in time for the holiday week leading up to New Year’s.
“Our Pandemic Playhouse is inspired by the old television shows of the 1950s and 60s that I remember seeing as a kid, such as Playhouse 90, Masterpiece Playhouse, and Philco Playhouse,” said Monte. “We will bring a number of plays to life on our Main Stage at the F. M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, and then provide an online platform through which our audience can buy those shows. This is not only a chance to let the authors’ words, our superb company of actors, and the creative team behind them take the spotlight and benefit from being employed again, but it will provide thousands of people with more of the much-needed ‘medicine’ that the arts provide, and hopefully, income from this programming will help the theater survive the pandemic.”
Pandemic Playhouse Entertainment will allow the theater to create and film high-quality theatrical productions, while keeping audiences safe and healthy as they view an equal measure of delightful and provocative offerings. If successful, PPE may join the array of programming options STNJ typically provides, and continue on well past the pandemic.
PPE will launch with the three George Bernard Shaw plays that most recently graced the company’s Backyard Stage for a short, limited run. Village Wooing; Passion, Poison, and Petrifaction and Overruled met with acclaim both from critics and audiences, but sadly, given the pandemic and its many restrictions, very few patrons were actually able to see the shows. Now these three delightful, but little-known, Shaw comedies will make for relaxing entertainment over the holidays and beyond.